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Deitz Dittrich

Early Season Smallmouth River Flies...

8 posts in this topic

Ok guys... I have a cabin just off the St.Croix River north of the HWY 70 bridge. I am getting one of them inflatable pontoon boat things and plan on hitting the river once season is open. I got the itch real bad. I know once the water warms that topwater will probably be the way to go, but I doubt that will be the best plan early season.

So, a little help for a few ideas would be nice. Some kind of streamer?.. Or would I be better off going with some kind of small mepps spinner and spinning tackle?

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What's a Mepps spinner? wink.gif Seriously, this is a question that has intrigued me for some time. I usually fish pretty hard for trout through June and then switch to smallies in July. I enjoy smallmouth fishing so much that I'd like to stretch the season a little. It seems to me that a minnow-imitating streamer pattern would be a good bet. I fish a lot of crayfish imitations later in the year, but you'd think they're population would be down in the spring and early summer. Someone with a real track record of catching these fish earlier in the open season told me that streamer patterns fished off creek mouths can be effective because many species of minnows run up creeks to spawn, producing a concentration of prey at the confluence of creek and river.

It's hard to top a Clouser minnow, but I've tied some simple patterns with EP Fibers that I'm eager to try, too.

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You're right about the clouser. They are a great smallie fly, but like you I typically don't go looking for smallmouth until mid-summer. I really enjoy fishing a weighted clouser using Holschlag's "crawfish hop" technique. You cast upstream at about a 30-45 degree angle, let the clouser sink, let the line belly out with the current (unless you're in some really fast current), and give occasional strips to give your clouser the "hop".

In the early season however, it seems that I always hook up with some surprise smallmouth when fishing for trout in April and May using a dark wooly bugger. FWIW.

Good luck Dietz! Let us know how you fare... smile.gif

Randy

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Deitz,

If fly gear is the way you decide to go, clousers are consistent producers. Bead-head wooly buggers size 2 or 4 are also pretty consistent. The bead head provides all the weight that you'll need for typical rifles and runs on the Upper St. Croix, and also adds a little flash. I've also had success with a steelhead fly (not sure of the name) that looks like a bead-head wooly bugger except it has a cone-shaped head and has rubber legs coming out of the body.

If you haven't made a purchase yet, check out sit-on-top kayaks for fishing the river. They track very well and are very manueverable in current, and depending on the model you buy, are very stable. The deck on a sit-on-top allows for easy customization (rod holders, tackle storage, etc.). Sit-on-tops, unlike standard kayaks, are easy to get in and out of, and they also allow you to hang your legs over the side and straddle the kayak while casting which gets you a little higher and makes casting in all directions possible. Mine has a high-back seat that allows me to totally lean back with full back support while paddling. It's also stable enough that I can hang both my legs over the same side of the kayak (side-saddle) and cast without taking a swim. I've used mine on the Mississippi and under normally flow conditions paddling up stream is definitely possible.

Fly fishing for smallies ROCKS!!!

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I wouldn't be afraid to fish crawfish patterns early season. You might need to fish them real heavy and slow though, as their metabloism will be be slow due to the cold water temps. They're there during the spring, just not real active enough to be wandering out and get caught off guard by a smallie. When fishing dark or crawfish patterns, I've always had to fish them slow and even let the fly sit for a while on the bottom before the next strip, to be the most effective. Sometimes patience can be hard when fishing in this manner, but it pays off.

No matter what time of year or the water conditions, a clouser minnow will be hard to beat. Fishing stream mouths during the tail end of the spring high flows should be productive. Warmer water temps will bring the shiner/baitfish run up those streams. Bead head buggers are nicer in calmer water because the marabou will provide a lot of movement in the water. Bunny flies are also effective for smallies.

I'v been excited to get out for smallies too (since there are not many trout streams around DL), unfortunately the season opens later down here.

As far as specific patterns are concerned, does anyone have a quick crawfish pattern that they like for smallies? I tied up a few crawfish patterns this weekend, and was looking for a quick simple pattern, that is still realistic enough to resemble a crawfish and its movements underwater. Is a wooly bugger the easiest imitation? I've been tying the rabbit strip crawfish, since I like the way the rabbit moves underwater. I tied a black hourglass head in the rear so the fly will ride hook up and and tail up. Whenever I've seen a crawfish flee, they always scoot backwards with their head down and tail up. I tied on a chenille body, with saddle hackle palmered, and a latex back and tail, wrapped in wire. I tied a bunch with silicone sili legs for antennae and legs, but that is very time consuming. I tied some with just the silicone antennae and the hackle should be able to replicate the legs. Any suggestions? I have plenty of buggers and would like to some other alternative patterns to use.

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Thanks everyone for the great advice... You guys really talked over my head, But I am looking up all the names you put up.

Quote:

If you haven't made a purchase yet, check out sit-on-top kayaks for fishing the river.


I am a bit of a clutz and the sit on top kayaks kind of scared me for that reason.. I would hate to dump and loose a rod and some gear.. hence why I thought of going with one of them pontoon floats. No, I have not bought it yet.

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Dumping a kayak is always a possibility. Most kayak fishermen install tie down kleats throughout the deck and leash all tackle, extra rods, etc. to the deck in case of a spill. Most of the kayaks designed for fishing have at least one water tight storage hatch for storing cameras, wallets, lunch...... The pontoon boats are more stable, but the speed and manueverability that kayaks offer are a definite plus, especially in current. When fishing a river with my kayak, I'll usually drift a section of shoreline or a run, and when i get to the bottom, I can quickly paddle back to the top and re-drift. This would be a little more work with a pontoon boat. Getting directly across river without missing any shoreline is also easier.

I would definitely give them a look. There are alot of different designs that emphasize different features. Some are designed for speed, but are less stable. Some are wider and more stable, but sacrifice speed and tracking. I've seen advertisements that show people standing and fishing from their sit-on-tops. Outriggers attached to the side of a kayak are an accessory that would make capsizing almost impossible.

If you're curious about them, go to kayakfishingstuff.com. They have a good photo gallery that shows how people have customized their kayaks for fishing.

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Deitz,

I've used the Pontoons, and they are very nice for fishing in. Even in rivers, sure it may not be as fast, but hey get one of them. Then if you really enjoy this style of fishing move up to a kayak.

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